Just a Fling - Chapter One
“Last chance, Piper!” I slowly walk away from her, dangling the car keys over my shoulder like they are some kind of magic carrot at the end of a golden stick. I know she isn’t going to come with me, that girl is so damn bullheaded. She needs to get away for a weekend more than clowns for hire did after the release of It. Surprisingly, Piper is the only one who doesn’t see it.
“Next time, Dee. I promise.” She’s as convincing as those who’ve given the backwoods motel I work in a five-star rating.
I roll my eyes in such a wide circle that I think I see the wall behind my head. I know she wants to come with me, she just doesn’t have the ovaries to say yes. “That’s exactly what you said last time.” And the time before that, and every other time I’ve asked. “Just come to Fort Mac for one night of clubbing then I’ll lay off.” I add under my breath, “For a while.”
“I heard that.” Piper places both her hands on her hips and gives me her best mom-look. It suits her since she treats my desire to hit the clubs like she would a toddler throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store.
Piper’s cheating, lying, good for nothing boyfriend, Chad, is home from the rigs this weekend and that’s what she’s sticking around for. He works a typical rigger’s schedule of three weeks on, one week off and Piper counts down the days until they have time off together. It’s not because she is so in love with him and can’t wait to see him – she gave up on that a while ago even if she isn’t willing to admit it out loud. It’s because he dragged her up north to this small oil town years ago, away from any career prospects and friends of her own. I hate seeing how she gave up on her dreams to allow Chad to do what he wants. He’s her only connection to a once happier life, even if the memory is disappearing faster than yesterday’s social media feed. She has fallen into this rut of waiting for her man to come home to dote on him when he doesn’t deserve to sit at the same table as her, let alone eat her food.
I love Piper to death, but she is another example of why limiting yourself to one man is a mistake. Women end up giving away their power in the name of love.
I work another angle, hoping that this will be the one that hooks her. “I became a certified mixologist this week and I’m in charge of the pre-club drinks. I’ve decided to make Negronis and I know how much you love a good cocktail.”
“When did you become a mixologist? And whatever happened to just being a bartender?”
“Downtime at work. I figure with the number of hours I logged online searching up different drinks, I am unofficially certified.”
"You're definitely certifiable." She comments at my questionable mental state from working the night shift, which leaves me more than enough time to get swallowed up by the black hole that is the internet. Even though she mocks my habit, I am her link to the outside world. Anything worthy of hitting the gossip columns comes straight to my inbox. Knowing that there are lives more exciting than ours is the only way either of us stays sane in this isolated town.
I offer her an empathetic look asking if that’s still a no for tonight.
"I don't need your pity. I'm looking forward to my weekend." I do pity her, though. She's wasting her best qualities on someone who doesn't see her for who she is. Not to mention those long legs and silky chestnut curls would get the attention of so many guys, she could have her pick of the club tonight. Some positive male attention would help her see how far she's fallen down the rabbit hole. Sometimes I get the feeling that she thinks it's too late for her to find someone who will respect her.
Piper is my closest friend and even though I know nothing I offer will make her change her mind tonight, I will keep on trying every time I go out. I will go as far as taking Piper with me when I leave Fort McKay, Alberta for good.
“Fine, but you don’t know what you’re missing.” I try one last time, sweetening my voice to make it sound like something special is planned even though it’s just a regular girls’ night out.
Piper deadpans. “I know exactly what I’m missing because you always give me way too much information when you come home.”
I look at her and pretend to be offended. “That’s not true. I keep the best details to myself.”
“I find that hard to believe. I know more about strangers’ penises than I do about the guys I’ve slept with.” I can’t argue that. I do like to share details, especially since it makes Piper squirm like a worm on a hook. She is so vanilla. “Drive safe. The roads are shit,” she says as a way of dismissing me from this conversation.
“Piper, It’s January in Northern Canada. The roads are always shit this time of year.” Piper pokes her tongue out at me, not appreciating my sarcasm.
"Usual protocol, please?" I nod in compliance with her request. Piper always has me text her a picture of the guy I am going home with, his address and she makes me send a text from his phone so she has his number too. Just in case. I'm never too worried about these things because she worries enough for both of us. Besides, I don't party alone. I have a group of friends in town who, unlike Piper, is always ready for a night out.
“Oh my god, Danielle! You look so hot in those pants! Do a spin for me, babe!” Carly makes a swirling motion with her dangling finger. I do look pretty hot in my black pleather leggings. I spin around, circling my hips like I’m already on the dance floor, all the while being careful not to spill my carefully-crafted Negroni. I am quite successful until she smacks my ass and makes me jump.
“You’re lucky that didn’t land on me! I only brought two outfits for the weekend,” I cry while walking into the kitchen to grab some paper towel to wipe the floor.
“Already planning on a second night out?” Deidra asks, likely more for scheduling purposes than as a judgement on my social life. Fort McKay is a one street town so small that there isn’t even a traffic light. My time in Fort McMurray, or Fort Mac as it’s known, is like a quick sojourn to Las Vegas for those of us stuck in Northern Alberta’s oil patch. Well, the step-brother’s poor cousin’s version anyway. I have to pack in as much nightlife as I can before I head back to reality.
“I wish. I have to go back to work tomorrow night but I would like to spend the day in clean clothes.”
“Ladies, quit your yammering and down those drinks! The taxi is one minute away,” Celeste informs us.
“Here’s to staying positive and testing negative!” Deidra calls out as we raise our glasses. She’s met with a collective groan from the rest of us. Deidra tips her head back, emptying the orangish cocktail down her throat in one long swallow. Out of the four of us, she’s the one who needs Piper’s security protocol most.
We set our empty martini glasses down on the kitchen counter and grab our purses, heading for the door. Celeste gives us all pats on the behind as we pass her like we are entering the stadium as football players. This is going to be a good night. I’ve already had my ass smacked twice and I haven’t even hit the club yet.
We tumble out the door to the driveway where the taxi waits for us. “Ladies, ladies, ladies.” Our young driver shakes his head. “It seems like the pregaming was good tonight.” I’m sitting in the front seat, so it’s up to me to high-five him in agreement. “Your request here says that you want to go to Austin’s, but I’m thinking,” he pauses and scratches his chin to make it look like he is debating with himself. “I’m thinking you should head to The Blue Star tonight. The DJ spinning is my cousin and he’s…”
“Let me stop you right there,” I say placatingly, patting him on the shoulder. “This sounds a bit like we’re in Thailand and you’re going to take us to some crap joint in the middle of nowhere just so you can get a commission.”
He laughs not at all offended. “I promise you, my cousin is awesome. He’s spun in New York, LA, Ibiza.” His tone of voice doesn’t drop after the last city which leads me to believe that he was going to add on to his cousin’s resumé if only he could remember the names of the other cities.
From the back seat, Celeste pipes up, “If he’s so good, then what’s he doing playing a club in Fort Mac?” The other girls chirp in agreement. “And why are you driving around trying to drum up a crowd for him?”
“Fair questions, girls. He’s here for a family wedding and he thought he would play a couple gigs for the locals. Google him if you want. His name is FriqueShow. Let me spell that for you.” Deidra Googles the DJ and unless the thousands of photos are all planted by a very well-paid PR team, our driver isn’t lying. FriqueShow is an international sensation in the DJ world.
“I’m good to take you to Austin’s and then when you’re bored out of your minds and want to come to the real party, I’ll come to pick you up. Free of charge. Give me your phone and I’ll put my number in.” He motions towards me for my phone and I hand it over. No harm, right? He puts his number in and sends himself a message.
“That’s one way to get a girl’s digits.” I joke with Ricky, my newest friend.
He winks at me and I know he’s played this game before. Ricky has dirty blond hair and darkish eyes. Green maybe? It’s hard to see in the dark car. His square jaw is lined with more stubble than a five o’clock shadow but less than a full beard. Just enough scruff to make a girl feel his face trailing across bare skin. If I met him in the club and he asked me to dance I wouldn’t think twice. Hell, I’m already thinking of what his head would feel like between my legs.
“What name can I put in here?”
“Danielle,” I tell him without hesitation. If tonight is a bust, he can be my fallback plan.
He smiles with a boyish charm. “Real name or fake?”
I feign innocence, opening my mouth into a wide “O” and placing a palm to my chest. “What makes you think that any one of us would give out a fake name?” I look to the backseat for support from my posse who all start to giggle immediately. He responds with a tilt of the chin and a quirk of his eyebrows. “Fair enough. Real name.” His look transforms into a genuine smile that elicits one from me in return. If he’s going to be hanging out at The Blue Star, maybe we should consider it. I am already part way through Piper’s list of security measures as it were.
He taps my name into his phone then turns to face the backseat. “So, ladies? Where am I taking you tonight?”
Carly, who is sitting in the middle seat rotates her head to look at the other two women. “Where to?”
“The Blue Star!” They cheer, raising the roof and chair dancing as though the party has already started.
“The Blue Star!” Ricky parrots, attempting to replicate their enthusiasm.
“I feel like you just conned me into giving you my number.” All I get in return is another raise of the eyebrows and a hum.